Spatial and temporal variation of intertidal nematodes in the northern Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Academic Article


  • Nematodes are an abundant and diverse interstitial component of sedimentary habitats that have been reported to serve as important bioindicators. Though the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster occurred 60 km offshore in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) at a depth of 1525 m, oil rose to the surface and washed ashore, subjecting large segments of coastline in the northern GOM to contamination. Previous metabarcoding work shows intertidal nematode communities were negatively affected by the oil spill. Here we examine the subsequent recovery of nematode community structure at five sites along the Alabama coast over a two-year period. The latter part of the study (July 2011-July 2012) also included an examination of nematode vertical distribution in intertidal sediments. Results showed nematode composition within this region was more influenced by sample locality than time and depth. The five sampling sites were characterized by distinct nematode assemblages that varied by sampling dates. Nematode diversity decreased four months after the oil spill but increased after one year, returning to previous levels at all sites except Bayfront Park (BP). There was no significant difference among nematode assemblages in reference to vertical distribution. Although the composition of nematode assemblages changed, the feeding guilds they represented were not significantly different even though some variation was noted. Data from morphological observations integrated with metabarcoding data indicated similar spatial variation in nematode distribution patterns, indicating the potential of using these faster approaches to examine overall disturbance impact trends within communities. Heterogeneity of microhabitats in the intertidal zone indicates that future sampling and fine-scale studies of nematodes are needed to examine such anthropogenic effects.
  • Authors

  • Brannock, Pamela M
  • Sharma, Jyotsna
  • Bik, Holly M
  • Thomas, W. Kelley
  • Halanych, Kenneth M
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • September 2017
  • Published In


  • 18S rRNA
  • Alabama
  • Animal Distribution
  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Functional diversity
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Meiofauna
  • Metabarcoding
  • Nematoda
  • Petroleum Pollution
  • Population Dynamics
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 28781067
  • Start Page

  • 200
  • End Page

  • 212
  • Volume

  • 130